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Over 50 thousand people participate in volunteer movement — interview with Aliya Galimova

Saturday, 18 January 2020, 11:37:26

At the initiative of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, 2020 has been declared the Year of the Volunteer in Kazakhstan. The Head of State emphasized the need to develop volunteering not only at the national level, but also in every city and village. In an interview with PrimeMinister.kz, Aliya Galimova, chairman of the Civil Society Affairs Committee of the Ministry of Information and Social Development, spoke about the development of the volunteer movement and the measures taken to increase the status and prestige of volunteers in Kazakhstan.

— As you know, 2020 was declared the Year of the Volunteer in Kazakhstan. What preceded the recognition of volunteering at the state level?

— As part of the Nation’s Plan “100 Steps,” a special law on volunteering was adopted in 2016. This law for the first time laid the foundation for a more sustainable, systematic development of volunteering in our country. From that moment on, volunteering initiatives received a legislative basis and consolidation. It is very important that the volunteer organizations themselves note that the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev supported precisely the initiative of a number of volunteer organizations that contacted him and, for sustainable development, asked to declare the Year of the Volunteer.

— How is the volunteer movement in Kazakhstan developing today? What are the results of the past year? What projects could you highlight?

— In general, if you look at the statistics, the volunteer movement in Kazakhstan is now developing very rapidly. If in 2017, about 100 organizations were active, today more than 200 organizations carry out their volunteer activities. In addition, it should be noted that there are separate initiative groups. In general, according to our data, more than 50 thousand people are involved in the volunteer movement.

I would like to mention sustainable projects that have been operating for more than one year. One of them is the Good Club. It operates throughout the country — in every city, every settlement. Volunteer children help people who need daily help. Volunteers unite with a high degree of mobilization, find out what kind of help is needed and help certain categories of citizens.

I would also like to mention the 28 Loops Club, which today covers over 2 thousand people. In all regions of the country there are divisions of the Club. Also, this movement spread to other countries — Azerbaijan, Russia, the Baltic countries. Over 130 thousand sets of clothes for premature babies, weighing from 500 grams and above, were connected. This Club unites different people — of different social, age, demographic status. There are not only women, but also men who knit things for premature babies.

There is a Club, which we call the network structure. This is the Leader organization, which is engaged in the search for missing people. Units are available in Ust-Kamenogorsk and Nur-Sultan.

I would like to note the movement "I am Almaty." When the tragic events took place in the city of Arys, it was this volunteer organization that responded and the first aid to the residents of Arys was provided by this very movement.

I would also like to mention an organization such as the National Volunteer Network, which brings together more than 80 volunteer organizations across the country. They also have several interesting projects. In particular, a very important and serious project Zhenis. It helps veterans of the Great Patriotic War.

— In what areas will the volunteer movement in the country develop?

— We selected seven key areas in which the development of volunteering will go. These are educational, medical, environmental volunteering, mentoring to people in difficult situations, volunteering to eliminate technological disasters, emergencies, helping older people, people in institutions with special care, people with special needs, as well as volunteering for preservation of spiritual, cultural and historical values.

We assume that, as part of educational volunteering, volunteers in all regions will go to the countryside and will help children from rural schools in preparation for subject Olympiads, for more successful passing UNT and mid-term controls. Volunteers can give new skills in computer technology, robotics and other innovative areas. We assume that within the framework of the project “Birgemiz. Bilim” in each region, 1,000 rural school students — a total of 14 thousand students — will be covered by this assistance from volunteers who will help to increase precisely the educational level.

As part of medical volunteering, volunteers will work in hospices and oncology centers. For example, we have such good examples as Arman Kassymov from the city of Atyrau, who works at the oil company on a rotational basis, and in his spare time (two weeks, which he does not work on duty) helps as part of the emergency medical team. It helps both medical professionals and citizens. Such examples will cultivate, display and engage the population.

We also see a very large direction — this is volunteering in the liquidation of technological disasters and emergencies. If such situations arise, our citizens, our volunteers will be ready to mobilize and confront either the elements or a man-made disaster.

Another very important direction for us is “Qamqor.” In this area, volunteers will help older people, people who are in institutions with special care, and people with special needs.

Now in Kazakhstan, environmental volunteering is very actively developing, mentoring people who find themselves in difficult life situations — “Birgemiz. Sabaqtastyq." The Asyl Mura direction will also be developed to preserve spiritual, cultural and historical values.

— The Head of State noted that it is necessary to open educational centers for training volunteers, to create an infrastructure of volunteering in social networks. What work is planned in these areas?

— The ministry created a platform — “Qazvolunteer.kz.” This platform is designed to facilitate the search for volunteer organizations and projects. That is, anyone who wants to become a volunteer can register on this platform. Volunteer organizations, bodies or institutions may invite volunteers in one direction or another to the project. When the volunteer performs the functions and duties, the body that invited can evaluate the work of the volunteer. In the future, having a portrait of a volunteer, any other organization will be able to invite him, taking into account previous experience and assessment of the previous volunteer organization.

— Could you describe the portrait of a Kazakhstan volunteer? What basic qualities should he have?

— Probably, I will dispel one of the stereotypes that volunteers are only young people. Today, according to our data, a volunteer is a person who is 35-40 years old with a very active civic position. He has professional experience, workplace, education. Volunteers are, first of all, indifferent people to their fate, to the fate of their land, to the environment as a whole. Of course, volunteers are kind, sympathetic people who are ready, not in words but in action, with concrete actions to help their neighbor, society, and change the world around them, their country.

— How many volunteers are currently registered in the country? How many people can reach the volunteer movement in Kazakhstan in the future?

— Of course, you can give examples, when a very large mass of people can be involved in individual events. For example, about 7 thousand volunteers were involved at Expo-2017. We do not chase numbers. It is important for us to promote the systematic and sustainable development of volunteering. What does sustainability of volunteering mean? It is that a person devotes a certain amount of time, an hour or two, to volunteer activities weekly. A large number of people can be mobilized. Suppose volunteer organizations themselves say that over the 6 years of operation, the Kind Club has carried away up to 300 thousand volunteers. But at the same time, there are about 10 thousand people who are stable volunteers, that is, those who constantly participate in volunteer activities. In general, we see that there is a great prospect for volunteering in Kazakhstan, and a very high level of positive mobilization, when citizens are ready to unite to solve problems, share their experience, time, and skills. Now there is such a high demand in society. We think that volunteering has such a great prospect. Moreover, if appropriate conditions are created by the state, we are just now creating, in the form of moral incentives, for the work of volunteers, the translation of the experience of volunteering, in the form of encouraging, showing the best examples and practices. I would like to note that one of the areas we will develop corporate volunteering. This is volunteering in a business environment. It already exists in Kazakhstani companies, in companies with foreign participation. And we would like Kazakhstani business companies to show this good practice to small medium-sized businesses how a business on a volunteer basis can help to introduce such useful skills for society.

— How will volunteer initiatives be encouraged among the population? What plans have you already outlined? What rewards can volunteer students expect?

— There are several aspects. Volunteer labor is gratuitous labor. At the same time, we would like to dispel the myth that volunteering does not need money at all. Still, the funds are needed for the costs incurred by volunteers or volunteer organizations. In order to get to your destination, you need certain means. As part of volunteering, such costs are supported. If we are talking about volunteer work in an animal shelter, then animals need food, feed. Search engines need means of communication — walkie-talkies, means of transport, identification clothes — vests. In addition, the competition “Zhana Bastama” will be held in each region. About 10 volunteer initiatives will be selected from each region, which will be encouraged both morally and financially. Material — the costs of various expenses that are necessary for the volunteer or volunteer organization will be encouraged. We expect that such an incentive will amount to about 1 million tenge for a volunteer organization, initiative or volunteer. Work will be organized in the near future.

When we communicate with volunteers, we ask what kind of encouragement, incentive is most important for them. It was a pleasant discovery for us and a surprise that the volunteers say that moral encouragement and stimulation are important for them to be noticed, paid attention to, so that as many people as possible can tell about them. Therefore, we plan to establish such an award "Best Volunteer of the Year."

Within the framework of the year, we also envisage several opportunities for our volunteer organizations to be able to go abroad to large dialogue venues, volunteer conferences in order to exchange experiences and talk about Kazakhstan's experience. For example, in July 2019, a large global technical meeting is planned in New York on volunteering. We expect Kazakhstan to present its experience in volunteering, and we want a number of volunteer organizations to be able to visit such large projects. In addition, a large Expo 2020 exhibition will be organized this year in Dubai. Already, they are inviting volunteers from all over the world. And, I think, volunteers from Kazakhstan will be a prominent segment, having behind them the vast experience of organizing Expo in Kazakhstan.

— What measures are being taken to increase the role of volunteering today? How to make volunteering prestigious for the average Kazakhstani?

— The Ministry of Education and Science last year together with our Ministry launched a project — a social student loan. Full-time university students who are involved in volunteering, actively participate in it, are provided with the following types of social student loans: 1) a loan of 20,000 tenge for 20 hours of activity; 2) a loan of 50,000 tenge for 50 hours of activity. A student can be encouraged in the form of an allowance for a scholarship or, if he studies on a paid basis, in the form of this student voucher or loan to pay for his studies. It is very important that these students are registered on our Qazvolunteer.kz platform. Students of such specialties as “Psychology”, “Pedagogy” can provide services in five social areas — a social teacher, a teacher who helps children with deviant behavior, volunteers providing tutoring services, organizers of leisure activities, and can be encouraged. This year will pass under such a key message — the year of good deeds. Perhaps these are small matters. But one small thing is made up of small affairs. We would like for the principle of kindness to operate during this year, when people unite, collaborate, trust each other, without pathos, and through their concrete, small deeds show love for their land, their homeland. I think this year is a very good year for all undertakings and will become an incentive for progressive, positive development in general, and will serve as the arithmetic of good deeds. I am convinced that doing good is contagious. I hope that this year all these good deeds will grow exponentially thanks to our active, kind citizens, volunteer organizations.

— Thank you for the interview!


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